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Hjem: a film about Northumberland County of Sanctuary

In the summer of 2022, frustrated by the biased opinions of the media towards those seeking asylum in the UK, Jamie Sinclair journeyed back to his hometown of Ashington, Northumberland, to tell a different side of the story. He spent time with the Northumberland County of Sanctuary—set up to welcome refugees and asylum seekers who were being sent to North East England to live—and the resulting project, “Hjem,” paints a profound and poetic picture, not only of those seeking asylum, but also of the hospitality and kindness of the communities welcoming them with open arms.

Hjem is pronounced “yem”—a nordic word that remains deeply entrenched in Northumberland dialect. “It’s how we say ‘home’ where I’m from,” Jamie explains, “that’s why I really like ‘hjem’ for the name of the project, because it’s a foreign word, but it’s home, and our local dialect.” In the past Ashington was one of the largest coal mining towns in Europe which saw people from all over the continent move there to live and work. The miners created their own dialect to use in the coalpits, Pitmatic (originally: Pitmatical or colloquially Pityakka). “This is what I like about being where I’m from,” Jamie says, “there are people there who get to learn our culture, and we get to learn theirs.”

Click here to find out more about the incredible work done by Northumberland County of Sanctuary